JOPLIN, Mo.(AP) â€” Despite her pleas for mercy, Beth Williams was sentenced Monday to 15 years in prison for her role in a child-abuse case that culminated two years ago with her severely underweight daughter clinging to life at a Joplin hospital.
Williams, 28, pleaded guilty Nov. 18 to felony child abuse with respect to the care of her daughter, Cameron Williams, who was taken to the emergency room of a Joplin hospital on July 1, 2012, in an unconscious state and with a blood sugar level of zero. The girl weighed barely 12 pounds at the age of 3.
Williamsâ€™ plea agreement capped the prison time she might receive at no more than 15 years, which is the sentence her roommate, Christina Haidle, 28, received at a sentencing hearing in February. Haidle reportedly took care of both Williamsâ€™ daughter and her own son while Williams, the manager of a local pizzeria, was at work.
Handcuffed and choking back tears Monday, Williams told Jasper County Circuit Judge Gayle Crane during her sentencing hearing that her â€śbiggest mistakeâ€ť was placing her daughter in the situation with Haidle, and that her â€śbiggest and most sincere apologyâ€ť was owed to Cameron.
â€śI love my daughter with all of my heart, and Iâ€™m sorry I failed to protect her as a mother should,â€ť she said, reading from a handwritten letter.
The prosecuting attorneyâ€™s office had requested that Williams be sentenced to the maximum prison time allowed by her plea agreement. Kimberly Fisher, assistant prosecuting attorney, cited the testimony last month of a family practitioner with the Childrenâ€™s Center in Joplin, who alleged that Cameron had actually died and had to be revived in the hospital emergency room two years ago.
â€śThe evil and cruelty done to this child I have never seen matched by another case,â€ť Fisher said. â€śShe saw that child, she held that child, and she did not do anything but let that child starve to death.â€ť